Tuesday, May 22, 2012

BikeJam: Three Step Program for a Safer Race

What's up people? Did you have a good weekend? Did you get all racey at Wilmington and BikeJam? Are your insides still inside and your outsides still outside? Maybe..Maybe not.

It seems like every year BikeJam comes and goes and every year people bail entirely on the race because of the past history of the race.  I mean, this race has a reputation. Of course, many people shun the risk of road rash and post up anyway.

Don't get me wrong. BikeJam is a GREAT event in the heart of downtown Baltimore. Heck, this year even seemed pivotal with the crowd attending. Town alcoholics wondering the field breaking bottles near the course were replaced by young urban twenty somethings playing organized ultimate frisbee. Yippeeee!!!

With that all being said, let's dissect why BikeJam has more than its fair share of casualties. Maybe the officials and promoters could take note.

totally stolen from Cadence and Cogs blog. Let's take down the barriers!!
1. Barriers. Lots and lots of barriers. YGD understands the need to keep people off the course. However, these steel barriers also keep riders inside the course when something 'bad' happens. As far as the eye can see there are barriers. Now..YGD is an environmentally type of guy but this might be one opportunity to use an insane amount of yellow tape and traffic cones..or maybe a human chain of friends holding hands! How many times have you heard "I got bumped into a barrier and then..."

Even Gingers weren't safe on Sunday.
2. Wheel-pit placement. Old YGD was in said BikeJam race and coming along the hill when, all the sudden, he looks up and sees a USA Cycling official entering in a crashed out rider for his free lap. Now, this SEEMS fine but you have to remember the line of sight for the rider coming into the hill is about two or three rear ends. If it wasn't for my catlike reflexes, the world would have ended. I would propose to put the wheel-pit AFTER the start/finish line in the giant empty space to the left before the chicane. Not sure if any crashes happened at that spot, but let's consider this a preventative measure for 2013.


This looks painful. Heal up, Eli. Photo from Evelyn Egizi. Evelyn, stop taking photos of broken people.
3.   Road surface. I know I know..we are LUCKY to have races at all no matter how many potholes and crevices and sand in chicanes there are. This really doesn't bother me too much. I mean, hell, people last week was the Poolesville Road Race with 1.5 miles of gravel each lap. However, considering people's ability to handle their bikes, I must voice concern.

The bumps and cracks I can take. However, I could visually see road sand/dirt in that corner. MAYBE consider putting a guy there with a broom so there aren't so many wash outs?

My last thought of the day is sketchy riders. I'll leave this one out of my official list because it's something that no promoter or official can really control. Ultimately, the safety of the race is up to the racers. Here are a few things that you can do to be considered a sketchy rider by your fellow riders.
  1. Trying to pinch in to get through a spot that is not there. This is even more annoying when it's during a non-decisive time during the race. Making a move up between a rider and a barrier only separated by 8 inches is stupid. 
  2. Dive-Bombing corners. I could write a whole thesis on this. The first good reason to NOT dive bomb a corner is that you are being a dick. The second reason is that you are actually loosing speed and will have to do more work long term to hold that spot. Stop it. Just keep your place and make your 'move' with your legs, not your idiot brain. 
  3. Moving erratically with your bike. I don't know what this is and why people do it. An example of this is when somebody gets out of the saddle and moves their bike two or three positions to the right or left. Not needed. Another example is when a rider is 'going hard' and his bike wobbles right and left. Is he putting out SO much power that his bike can't handle it. Stop that shit. It's stupid and you look retarded. 
That's it for now. My next project will be specifically for our officials and their desire to maintain center-line enforcement no matter how sketchy and risky driving a moto on the opposite side of the road is. 

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

re the barriers, I thought I read at least one person's blog (from GamJams)that said they crashed when a soccer ball was kicked into the course, so the barriers didn't even do their job.

MichaelVahlsing said...

The soccer ball went into the pro,1,2 race down the back stretch where they were playing soccertennisbasketfootballcourtpunt. No barriers down there!

German Engineered Italian Design said...

Having raced this course before it does not surprise me that the promoter have not fixed anything. It was bad then and it is still bad. The promoters do not work with the city to repave or fix the surfaces. The promoters allow the city to use crowd control barriers to separate the spectators and the races. Case in point http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=t5PZfEDnvzM This type of barrier should be banned by USA cycling at all CAT races. They cause more harm then good.

MichaelVahlsing said...

The youtube.com vid you reference shows a guy completely over-cooking a corner. If not for that barrier he's over the curb and into the box seats and fans - then promoters, town and grandma's are getting sued. Guys and Gals in the race, in every race, know going in there is chance for crashes due to road, barrier or rider hazards. It's bike racing. The barriers are there to allow for fans a close up and semi-safe view.

As for working with the city to get the course repaved - you DO realize the race is in Baltimore, no????? I had kids asking me for my gator aide!